Basketball isn't always my favorite sport, but the NBA has become my favorite league. Players and coaches don't act like they're in the military. They speak their minds. They value creativity.
So I loved it when Warriors coach Steve Kerr lambasted ESPN for its incessant coverage of helicopter basketball parent LaVar Ball. He's right - ESPN spends far too much time interviewing someone who is nothing more than an irritating parent. Kerr has a platform and I enjoy hearing his views, and appreciate that he will subject himself to criticism while stating his views.
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has gone farther, suggesting that reporters from ESPN shouldn't be credentialed if their network allows Ball to cause problems for Lakers coach Luke Walton.
Carlisle is dead wrong. Kerr is traveling down the right path but maybe taking a wrong turn.
ESPN drives me crazy on a lot of fronts but for all of their cutbacks and all of their on-air inanity, the network continues to employ a lot of good reporters and writers. I know Carlisle thinks making their jobs harder will somehow lead ESPN's bosses to alter their treatment of subjects like Ball, but he's wrong. He'll just be damaging the ability of quality reporters to do their jobs. Coaches should not be allowed to decide who covers their games. I don't think I have to explain why, and if I do, you probably shouldn't be reading me to begin with.
As for Kerr's view, he's right that ESPN is nakedly grabbing for ratings by turning Ball into a constant story, but there is only one cure for this disease.
It's a cure I've taken myself.
Don't watch. Don't listen.
I'm not sick of LaVar Ball because I've listened to exactly one full interview involving him. That was enough. Now I flip the channel if he comes on.
Kerr is right to posit that our society values empty celebrity more than substance, but he also works for a league that plays 82 games.
The NBA doesn't build 82-game schedules because that maximizes the quality of basketball being played, not when the lengthy schedule prompts respected coaches to rest stars and rob fans of entertainment. The NBA plays 82 games because that's the best way for the league to maximize revenues.
The NBA manipulates its programming schedule to maximize profits.
That's what ESPN is doing.
And I treat both entertainment entities the same way. When I'm not interested, I don't watch.
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